Despite Risks, Pain Relievers Given OK
FDA Panel Says Vioxx Can Come Back, Celebrex, Bextra Should Stay
WebMD News Archive
Warnings for Older Pain Relievers continued...
Graham said the data suggest that researchers must take a closer look at
older anti-inflammatory drugs to learn more about their possible safety
"Clearly this is going to be a complex undertaking," panelist John
Jenkins, MD, said. "Not all members of this class have the same amount of
Panelists warned that attaching strict warnings to Cox-2 drugs while giving
weaker warnings to older anti-inflammatory drugs could be dangerous if it drove
patients to take traditional drugs that may also have similar risks.
"They would have the false reassurance that there's not a problem, and
we don't know that there's not a problem," he said.
Naproxen, sold under many brand names including Aleve, could end up being
the only anti-inflammatory exempt from warnings because of several studies that
show it causes significantly fewer heart and stroke problems than do Cox-2
FDA experts said that previous reports linking naproxen to an increase in
heart attacks were
Naproxen is better for you than the other anti-inflammatory drugs right now
at least in terms of heart risk, Wood said.
Weighing the Good and the Bad
Cox-2 drugs are favored by many doctors because they may be less likely to
cause stomach ulcers and bleeding than older anti-inflammatory drugs.
Experts ultimately struggled with a puzzle: Is the potential benefit of
fewer stomach problems worth the small but probable increased risk of heart
attacks? And which patients are at the highest risk for the drugs' potentially
Steven Nissen, MD, medical director at The Cleveland Clinic, said that
decisions on whether or not to take Bextra, Celebrex, or other drugs remain
"filled with shades of gray."
Wood says, "These issues are really difficult. We all wished we had more
data that would inform us better." He adds that patients taking any
anti-inflammatory drug should meet with their doctors to see if they are at
higher risk for adverse reactions.